A Roman shipwrecks in the ancient port of Antibes

The bottom of the ancient harbour basin, which has gradually silted up, revealed tens of thousands of objects that fall in stratigraphic layers dated between the third century BC and the sixth century AD. 
Photo Rémi Bénali

From Past Horizons

A team of archaeologists from Inrap have uncovered a Roman shipwreck in southern France, in what was once part of the bustling ancient port of Antibes.

Antibes was known as Antipolis, a Greek colony originally founded by the Phoenicians of Massalia.

The date of its origin is uncertain, but situated on the coast of Provence, Antipolis occupied a privileged position on the sea routes linking Marseilles to the Italian coast and contained a natural harbour – Anse Saint-Roch – which protected shipping from prevailing winds.

The archaeologists have been exploring the ancient harbour basin that had progressively silted up in antiquity.

The basin contains a wealth of objects and information from the third century BC to the sixth century AD. Tens of thousands of objects have already been excavated from the bay of Saint-Roch, including goods from the Mediterranean basin, illustrating the vitality of the ancient port and trade in this part of the world.

Excavated sediments were below sea level.

These conditions favour the preservation of organic materials and helped to uncover objects that would be missing from dry land excavations, such as cork stoppers for amphorae, shoe soles, leather and wooden components.

In the final area explored by the archaeologists, the wreck of a Roman ship was discovered.

Preserved for more than 15 m long, the boat is lying on its side in shallow water (less than 1.60 m below antique sea level).

In cooperation with the Camille Jullian Centre, Inrap has commissioned a specialist in naval archaeology to carry out the analysis and interpretation of this important find.

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Mediterranean sea France Greece archaeology Phoenicia Roman

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